The U.S. Senate is set to pass an industrial policy bill that will put America back on the board in tech and medical manufacturing. The bill, which has widely bipartisan support, includes $52 million in subsidies for semiconductor manufacturers as well as $195 billion for research and development in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing, and other tech fields.
The legislation is an attempt to compete with China in tech development.
“Around the globe, authoritarian governments smell blood in the water,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “They believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t come together and invest in national priorities the way a top-down, centralized and authoritarian government can. They are rooting for us to fail so they can grab the mantle of global economic leadership and own the innovations.”
This proposed bill isn’t new to many members of Congress; However, the Coronavirus pandemic has thrown tech and medical development into the spotlight as supply chain disruptions in China led to global shortages of essential supplies. One lawmaker that brought the Industrial Policy Bill into the public eye was Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“In 2015, the Chinese Communist Party laid out a plan called ‘Made in China 2025.’ And what it is basically is a plan to invest in and overtake us in ten of the industries that will define the 21st-century economy,” said Rubio in a statement last month. “Biomedicine, advanced technology, air and space, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, telecommunications, 5G, rail systems, ship-building. They intend to lead the world in all of these areas, and they are executing on a plan to carry that out. And we have been complacent and distracted. So while China channels every element of their national power — every element that you can imagine — to dominate these key industries and to do it at our expense, we assume that our position in the world will continue on its own, without having to do anything to maintain it.”
Rubio and Schumer are both correct–China’s stronghold on big tech and pharmaceuticals has significantly grown in the 20th century while most Americans remained complicit. Over the past year, the pandemic showcased exactly how that can be a problem for America’s security.
The bill is likely to create a large number of American jobs in the process of advancing technological research.
“When the government invests in pure forms of research, down the road it creates millions of jobs,” Schumer said, citing investments in the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
While many U.S. officials worry about China’s dominance over 5G communication, the large industrial policy bill will have a strong focus on domestic telecommunications.